Savannah Chatham School District is Trying to Combat Truancy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

1/31/07

Savannah Chatham School District is Trying to Combat Truancy

The bomb threats don't affect some students that's because they don't even show up to class in the first place.

Truancy has always been a problem for Savannah-Chatham county schools, but now educators hope they've found a new plan to bring students back to school.

The classroom at Savannah high is filled today, but that's not always the case.

"Out of the 35 hundred students last year we had a truancy rate of 25 percent," said Miller-Fields.

Dr. Quentina Miller-Fields says that's outrageous!

Now she has the task of tacking truancy head on for the Savannah Chatham school district.

"We want to ensure our students are in school," said Miller-Fields.

 And Dr. Miller-Fields has a plan.

Step one? Increasing the number of truancy sweeps like the one that was back in September.

"By doing the sweeps, having weekly meetings in each of the individual schools and cases, and then coming up with strategies to get young people to come to school," said Miller-Fields.

So far so good and she says they are making progress.

At Savannah high the principal Walter Seabrooks says the number students not coming to school was astronomical, and now that the number has changed just in the last six months.

"I am comfortable to say our truancy has declined tremendously and I would go to say as much as 30 to 40 percent," said Walter Seabrooks.

"Students are more aware of the fact if not at school they will be picked up and transported to school," said Seabrooks.

That's not all, just new this year if a student has more than 5 unexcused absences they will be now turned over to juvenile court and could face some serious penalties.

"We as a district all means all and that's what it means all students in school," said Miller-Fields.

And with her plan in place she is hoping more of these classes will remain full.

This plan isn't just for high school students, if the child is under the age of ten and is caught skipping, their parents could face charges.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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